Thursday, August 12, 2010

'Burger Kampung'

Burgers. Who has not tasted them yet? Apparently this most 'basic' of Western food is now part and parcel of food available to Malaysians...from high-end fares in expensive steakhouses to the humble roadside stall versions. Personally, I came to know about burgers when I browsed through my mother's cookbooks and adverts of the comparatively few quick-serving restaurants then operational in Malaysia. At that time, Western food was considered to be 'exclusive' and can only be afforded by well-to-do Malaysians.

In the 80s burgers started to be sold in roadside stalls. Not only burgers are now more available to the masses, they are can also be consumed with better confidence of its Halal status, thanks to the effort of one Mr. (I think he is now a Datuk) Ramly Moknin, whose name is synonymous with the local version of the burger. Not everything went smoothly in those years as I recall the (tall) tales of bad quality control (i.e mouldy, wormy patties). In addition the public have a bad perception of the young men selling burgers on the roadside stalls mainly that they are drug addicts, if not pushers themselves. While probably true in a few cases, the sellers themselves did not project a positive image as many were mat rocks whom people despised...long hair and all! Anyway, not very long afterwards these burger stalls spring like mushrooms all around the country.

Preparation methods and ingredients usually vary even between neighbouring stalls. However the basic ingredients of this 'burger kampung' as I sometimes call them, are beef or chicken patty, margarine, onions, cabbage or lettuce and chili or tomato sauce...and of course sesame seed bun. The usual preparation method are like these:
1. Heat a little bit of margarine in a griddle and place the patty
2. excess fat and water (from the melted margarine and patty) should be constantly removed
3. Flip the patty so that it is evenly cooked
4. Make holes in the patty so that it can be cooked faster / halve it horizontally
5. Place halved and buttered (margarined?) bun
6. Remove bun and place condiments (shredded cabbage or lettuce leaf, sauce) on the bottom half.
7. Remove patty from griddle and place on the bun, put more sauce(or to customers' preference).
8. Place the top half of the bun and wrap it.

That's basically the way 'burger kampung' was made. With the passage of time more condiments were added such as mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, Maggi seasoning sauce and/or pepper powder. And who can forget 'burger special' which wraps the patty in fried egg? Nowadays there is even the black pepper sauce option (a la McDonald's Prosperity Burger). A friend of mine once have the onion sauteed so that it tastes better. I loved the taste but in general the onion is left raw.

Price-wise the burgers are affordable to almost everybody even though there is an upward trend over the years. If I recall correctly when first introduced they cost RM1.50 for a 'regular' beef burger and nowadays they may cost around RM2.00 even though at some time during the early 90s some stalls sell them for only RM1.00. In pasar malams in Kedah, I have seen 'burger ayam/daging + telur' for RM1.00. I thought wow, what bargain, burger special for only RM1! Alas, it was actually 'economy burger' with only half a patty and verrryy thin piece of fried egg 'skin'!

Roadside burger / burger kampung has been around for more than three decades and they definitely are here to stay despite the presence of more McDonald's and KFCs. The sellers are also getting more creative in their menu....and my mother actually prefer the kampung burgers to their more upmarket cousins. Besides, they are cheaper! Oh, apparently they are also a favourite of Singaporeans who know them as Ramly Burger. Strangely the Singaporean Government banned (cooked) Ramly Burger - even though the patty is readily available...really weird huh?

1 comment:

Hairil Rizal said...

Hmm.. great overview of those burger kampung.

Sincerely, I still prefer burger kosong. Patty & roti only. The way it's made at home. Hahaha!